Sioux City, IA-The Explorers yielded five first-inning runs before an attempted comeback came up just short in an 8-7 loss to Lincoln Saturday night at Lewis & Clark Park.
Sioux City (40-47) is 11-15 in one-run games this season. With the win, the Saltdogs (46-38) increased their lead in the division over both Gary SouthShore (2.5 games) and the Explorers (7.5 games). Lincoln barked early with two home runs in the first. Brian Joynt smacked his first of two dingers on the night with a three-run shot to deep left-center. Two batters later, Omar Luna added a two-run blast to left for a 5-0 lead.
The Explorers were held in check until the seventh. Peter Barrows socked his 14th home run of the season on a launch to deep straightaway center field. The round-tripper set a new career high for Barrows. Lincoln answered back in the eighth with a solo home run from Brian Joynt for a 6-1 cushion.
Sioux City started its eighth inning rally with a one-out infield single from Tim Colwell. Rene Tosoni followed with a walk. With two outs, Peter Barrows walked to load the bases. Tom Mendonca (pictured) then punched a three-run double into the gap in left-center. Amos Ramon cut the lead to 6-5 as he poked a line-drive single to right that just dropped in to score Mendonca.
In the ninth inning, Lincoln bought some breathing room again with their fourth home run of the night. Tyler Smith singled and Luis Nunez clubbed a two-run shot over the left field wall for an 8-5 advantage. The Explorers did not go quietly in the home half of the ninth. Michael Lang led off with a walk. After a fly-out, Tim Colwell doubled off the right field wall to put runners at second and third. A wild pitch scored Lang, and a ground out by Rene Tosoni plated Colwell as the X’s made it 8-7. With two outs and the bases empty, Brock Kjeldgaard nearly tied it with a double high off the left field wall. Peter Barrows then popped up to shallow center for the game’s final out.
Lincoln starter and Sioux City native Joe Bisenius picked up the win in his first start back after pitching in the Mexican League for more than a month. The Bishop Heelan product and former big leaguer set down 12 straight at one point. Bisenius (4-2) worked seven innings and gave up one earned run on just five hits. He had 11 strikeouts and only one walk. Bisenius fanned six straight before giving up the homer to Peter Barrows. Lars Liguori took the loss for the Explorers. Liguori (1-3) lasted five-and-two-thirds and allowed five earned runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and one walk. Marshall Schuler pitched the ninth and registered his 32nd save of the season. Schuler, however, was touched for two earned runs on two hits with one walk.
At the plate, the Saltdogs outhit the X’s 11-10. Luis Nunez went 3-for-5 with two singles, a home run, and two RBIs. Brian Joynt went 2-for-4 with two homers and four RBIs. Mike Gilmartin also collected two hits. For the Explorers, Tom Mendonca finished 3-for-4 with three doubles and three RBIs. Tim Colwell went 2-for-5 with two runs scored.
Sioux City faces Central Division leader Lincoln to close out the four-game series Sunday night. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05. For ticket information and promotion specials at Lewis & Clark Park, call 712-277-WINS or visit the Explorers website at www.xsbaseball.com.